During Saturday’s edition of AM Joy, host Joy Reid engaged in a discussion with Will Fischer of votevets.org, Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, and MSNBC Contributor Malcolm Nance about what they saw as the President’s lukewarm attitude toward the military and his tendency to use them as political props. Throughout the roughly ten-minute long segment, Reid and her guests did not hesitate to trash President Trump; whom they described as a “huckster-in-chief,” “racist-in-chief, “placeholder-in-chief,” “physical coward,” and an “emotional, mental coward.”
Reid began the segment by playing a clip of one of President Trump’s phone calls to the military on Thanksgiving, where he complained about the situation at the southern border with Mexico and the “totally out of control” Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Reid described the phone call as “strange” and “really bizarre,” while Fischer of votevets.org argued that the phone call demonstrated “his inability to serve as Commander-in-Chief.” Fischer asked, “Does he have the ability to act as a huckster-in-chief? Does he have the ability to act as a racist-in-chief? Yes, he does. But he is unfit and unable to fulfill his Constitutional role as Commander-in-Chief.”
After quipping that President Trump “has been avoiding combat zones since the 1960s,” Fischer went on to accuse President Trump of using the military as “nothing more than political props to try and advance his own racist, nativist, backwards agenda.”
After Reid played a clip of President Trump’s interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, where he expressed his regret for not visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans’ Day, Nance described President Trump as a “physical coward” before arguing that he refused to visit Arlington because “he is frightened of facing the situation that it will be made clear that if he goes to these military cemeteries...that he will be reminded of his own cowardice.” Nance went on to call the President a “disgrace” and “placeholder” and argued that he did not want to visit the World War I Cemeteries in France because he “does not want to be reminded of the fact that he is incapable of being brave and serving his nation. He is exploiting the nation and that’s all he cares about.”
A transcript of the relevant portion of Saturday’s edition of AM Joy is below. Click “expand” to read more.
JOY REID: President Obama celebrated this Thanksgiving by volunteering at a Chicago food bank. There he is, getting hugs. Donald Trump opted to go in a different direction, spending time at his Mar-a-Lago private membership club. And instead of giving back this holiday or giving thanks, he seemed to embrace the festivous tradition of airing of grievances during the traditional Thanksgiving Day phone call meant to thank U.S. troops stationed overseas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: You probably see over the news what’s happening in our southern border and our southern border territory. Large numbers of people and in many cases we have no idea who they are, and in many cases they’re not good people. They’re bad people. It’s a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services, when they tell you how to protect your border. It’s a disgrace. And I know that Chief Justice Roberts, John Roberts, has been speaking a little bit about it and I think we could have a lot of respect for him. I like him and I respect him. But I think we have to use some common sense. The 9th Circuit, everybody knows it’s totally out of control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Wow. Well for someone who claims to love the military so much, Trump has spent the last two weeks skipping a World War I commemoration in France due to rain, not visiting Arlington Cemetery on the Monday after Veterans’ Day because he was “extremely busy,” even though his public schedule showed nothing on his calendar and insulting the Navy S.E.A.L who led the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. Joining me now is MSNBC Contributor Malcolm Nance, Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, and Will Fischer, Director of Government Relations at votevets.org. Thank you all for being here. I’m going to go to you first on this, Will, Donald Trump, that call was so strange. He talked about himself going to Wharton. He talked about all sorts of extraneous things about the economy. He said he’s letting the troops win. They weren’t ever winning before but now he’s letting them win. It was really bizarre. I read the transcript before I listened to the clips. Either way, it was bizarre. How do you think members of the military received that particular message from this President?
WILL FISCHER: Well, I think the word best describe it is just unfit and Donald Trump, that was just a display of his inability to serve as commander in chief. Does he have the ability to act as a huckster-in-chief? Does he have the ability to act as a racist- in-chief? Yes, he does. But he is unfit and unable to fulfill his Constitutional role as Commander-in-Chief and people in the military, they absolutely notice that. And that’s why we are seeing support for President Trump among the active duty ranks and certainly among the veteran community, erode on nearly a daily basis.
REID: You know, it’s just interesting just for a second Will because, you know that, traditionally, you know, the military has generally leaned more toward the Republican Party. There have been lots of past Presidents who didn’t serve, and even had some controversy about not serving, whether it’s Bill Clinton not going to Vietnam. You know, there haven’t been that many Presidents who have been war heroes, Eisenhower comes to mind, but a lot didn’t serve. You know had, George W. Bush was in the army, National Guard, but he never saw combat, he never left the United States. But this President has styled himself as especially close to the military, as especially good for the military, even though he had five deferments in Vietnam, even though he didn’t go…apparently according to the Washington Post, a former White House official cited the reason that he hasn’t visited troops in the combat zones, which President Obama did, which President Bush did, which President, his dad, the other President Bush did, said that “he’s never been interested in going,” according to this official. “He’s afraid of those situations. He’s afraid people might want to kill him.” Will, a President that’s traveling has the best security on Earth. But he’s afraid to go.
FISCHER: Yeah, well Joy, Donald Trump has been avoiding combat zones since the mid 1960s. And this recent attacks being leveled against the military by the President is just a continuation of a theme that we have seen going back from the campaign. Whether it was Donald Trump comparing, you know, his sex life in the ‘80s to serving in Vietnam, whether it was attacking gold star families as a candidate and then again as President, or whether it’s something like turning over the future of our VA healthcare system to a couple of his country club buddies to try to manage between rounds of golf and over shrimp cocktail. At the end of the day, the simple reality is is that Donald Trump views the military as nothing more than political props to try and advance his own racist, nativist backwards agenda.
REID: You know, Malcolm, so Donald Trump tried to explain why he didn’t go to Arlington Cemetery as Presidents always do around Veterans’ Day. Here is he on Fox News Sunday explaining not going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE: You’re back in Washington on Monday; Veterans’ Day. Why don’t you go across the river to Arlington for that ceremony? Barack Obama went every year he was here in D.C.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I should have done that. I was extremely busy on calls for the country. We did a lot of calling, as you know.
WALLACE: But this is Veterans’ Day.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I probably, you know, in retrospect I should have and I did last year. I will virtually every year. But we had come in very late at night. And I had just left literally the American cemetery in Paris and I really probably assumed that was fine and I was extremely busy because of affairs of state, doing other things.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: But I would have, I would have done it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Malcolm, he was not extremely busy. This is Donald Trump’s public schedule. Can we put up Donald Trump’s public schedule? Can we just put that up? On Veterans’ Day? There it is. Nothing! There’s nothing on his public schedule. It’s highlighted there. There was nothing there. He’s extremely busy. Troops don’t get to say, well, you know, I thought it was enough that, you know, we did some combat yesterday and we just thought...this is really odd.
NANCE: It’s not odd. Let’s just call this what it is. Donald Trump is a physical coward. He dodged the draft five times. No one in his family has served. Every male in my family since the Civil War has served. Let me tell you something. He is frightened of facing the situation that it will be made clear if he goes to these military cemeteries, if he goes to these memorial ceremonies other than giving out the Medal of Honor ones because they come to the White House, that he will be reminded of his own cowardice and there’s just nothing more. He is a disgrace. He’s not Commander-in-Chief, he’s Placeholder-in-Chief. I have relatives who have dead comrades at the Suresnes Cemetery in Paris and at the (inaudible) Cemetery. Donald Trump wouldn’t even dane to go to one because he was afraid of the rain. And so for him to back out of going to Arlington…let me give him directions. Go around the ellipse, past the World War II memorial, turn right, drive straight. I mean, that’s all it takes for him to do it. He does not want to be reminded of the fact that he is incapable of being brave and serving his nation. He is exploiting the nation and that's all he cares about.
REID: And Jennifer, in addition to that, he also seems very open about criticizing members of the military; people who are incredibly brave and gallant, but he doesn’t seem to see that gallantry. He criticizes people, men much braver than himself. Here he is going after this, I mean, I shouldn’t be shocked, why I am I shocked anymore? Admiral McRaven, the man who, you know, was the sort of the author of the Bin Laden raid, he took down the person who was the author of 9/11. I mean, here he is going after McRaven who also, I believe, is in, is in treatment for cancer. Let’s listen to admiral McRaven.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Bill McRaven, Retired Admiral, Navy S.E.A.L., 37 years, former head of U.S. Special operations…
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Hillary Clinton fan.
WALLACE: Special operations…
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan.
WALLACE: …who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama Bin Laden says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Okay, he’s a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer. And frankly…
WALLACE: He was a Navy S.E.A.L.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin laden a lot sooner than that? Wouldn’t it have been nice? You know, living…think of this, living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion. I don’t know. I’ve seen nicer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: What was that?
RUBIN: Oh, my. You know, if he had been around during World War I, he would have bad mouthed Sergeant York. He has no respect for others. And to pick up on what Malcolm said, he is not only a physical coward but he’s an emotional and mental one as well. He understands the contrast between these great people and himself and he has such a frail ego, such a thin skin that all he can see for McRaven is not “hero,” is not “Bin Laden leader.” All he can see is Hillary Clinton supporter because it’s all about him. It’s always about him. So anyone who has slighted him, whether it was criticism from former CIA Director and former DNI Directors, whether it was people in the military, they are simply other critics, they’re bad people. They are people who support his enemies. And it’s all about him. A Commander-in-Chief by definition has to be selfless. He has to put himself behind the troops and Donald Trump wants to be ahead of the troops literally as well as figuratively. And remember, he wanted his parade, too, then finally had…couldn’t get that. But that’s what he thinks of the military, like his toy soldiers. Remember how he used to refer to, he still does sometimes, my generals. We don’t have “my generals” in this country. They are the United States generals. They are the people’s generals. But Donald Trump thinks of these as little marionettes who dress up in uniform and who he gets to order around.